MTB

Take a look at Annika Langvad’s Specialized S-Works Epic

© Bartek Woliński
By Ric McLaughlin
Check out the ultra-light race machine of one of this weekend’s hot favourites for the Stellenbosch XCO World Cup.
For fully-fledged bike geeks there are few more envy-inducing places to be than the opening UCI World Cup race of the year. There simply are no cooler bikes than race bikes. No-compromise machines designed for one thing; winning.
When it comes to the business of race victories there’s a definite ‘upper echelon’ of bikes that have done more winning than most. Over the years pivot points move, tube shapes change and wheel sizes and measurement standards fluctuate like seasonal winds, but the names, and most importantly the results, stay the same. The Specialized S-Works Epic is one such thoroughbred.
Annika Langvad is a UCI World Champion in both XCO and marathon disciplines and she’s been a long-term fixture on the elite Specialized S-Racing team sheet. She won the opening UCI World Cup in both 2016 and 2017 and this brand new Epic is the bike she’ll be hoping to repeat that feat on come Saturday’s big race. It would be a historic hat trick, if she can pull it off.

Frame

Langvad’s frame is a stock frame, the same as can be picked up from your nearest Specialized Concept Store, should the desire take you and your pockets are deep enough. Specialized launched the revamped Epic last year and it's built around two key aspects; their Rider-First Engineered design and its bespoke RockShox Brain shock.
Closer look at the Brain 2.0 shock on Annika Langvad's bike.
The Brain 2.0 shock positioned at the rear axle
The geometry is, as you’d expect, designed for delivering the very fastest of lap times and the carbon fibre is Specialized’s own 12mm FACT. The Brain 2.0 shock utilises an additional dampening unit positioned right at the 148x12mm rear axle and works to allow for maximum sensitivity, while also allowing a rider to transfer maximum pedalling efficiency into the ground.
Annika Langvad's custom-painted Specialized frame.
Custom-painted frame for the opening round and Cape Epic
Annika’s frame is custom-painted. It’s the same bike that she will race at the Cape Epic stage race next week, where she’ll be partnered up with the US’s Kate Courtney. After the race, the bike will be auctioned off for charity.

Fork

Focus on RockShox SID WC Brain fork during bike check.
A custom-tuned RockShox SID WC Brain fork takes care of front wheel
A custom-tuned RockShox SID WC Brain fork takes care of front wheel control via 100mm of suspension travel. A tapered carbon-fibre crown and steerer helps to keep weight as low down on the bike as possible. The front axle is an equally lightweight 15x110 Maxle Stealth.

Components

Langvad is running Specialized’s own Command Post BlackLite dropper seatpost, which allows her to make use of 100mm of drop at a press of a bar-mounted button. Dropper seatposts have slowly but surely been creeping on to more and more XCO race bikes and, despite the pro pack’s aversion to any extra weight and complication, the progression of race tracks such as the one found in Stellenbosch means that there are definite tangible advantages to be had. On top of that sits a Specialized S-Works Power saddle.
Annika uses SRAM’s Eagle XX1 12-speed groupset with the inclusion of a high-tech Rotor INPower 3D+ cranks. Unlike other power meter-equipped cranks which usually see the power-measuring systems placed inside the cranks themselves, Rotor have located them in the crank axle.
Detail of Magura Raceline brakes.
Two-piston ultra light MT8 Magura Raceline
As of this season, all of the big, red S’s factory race teams are running Magura brakes. The Danish National Champion is using the two-piston, ultra-light MT8 Racelines.

Wheels

Detail of the Roval wheels on Annika Langvad's bike.
29in Roval wheel with Renegade rear tyre
Specialized’s own Roval are unsurprisingly the rolling stock of choice. The Control SL’s are 29in and are built around a carbon-fibre hookless rim. Every gram shed on a wheel translates into a massive difference out on the track as it reduces rotational mass. They’re wrapped in Specialized’s Fast Trak (front) and Renegade (rear) XC racing tyres.